Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Thoughts on a New Year's Eve

I know I should be out partying on this New Year's Eve, but with a 4-year-old getting ready for bed and my wife at work, I'm home with the dog.

I had a job interview this morning, and it made me think of several aspects of the job hunt and the job I want to find. I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but the interview left me thinking about resolutions for 2009 related to my job, whatever it turns out to be. One of the questions was about my management style, which I thought was a good question and one I'm happy to answer. And I think my answer tells a lot about what I want to do next in my career and what type of workplace I want to be in.

I last worked at a newspaper, so I described my management style in how I dealt with reporters, and encouraged the interview team to contact any of my former reporters for more information. My basic approach was to let them find the news, and to be proactive as their editor early in the reporting process so that together we answered any questions the typical reader might have well before the story got to me to edit. I was trying to prepare, and teach my staff to prepare, as early as possible for any roadblocks they might encounter in researching a story.

Another thing I tried to get my reporters to do was to have long-term stories, or goals, that they wanted to do each week. Being a reporter at a daily newspaper can be a grind, and writing short, news-of-the-day stories can numb the brain. I tried to have each reporter I was working with have at least one long-term project going that was thoughtful, analytical and would be a fun read. I wanted them to have a reason to come in to work every day with a sense that they would do some journalism that they set out to do early in their careers. I wanted them to see a long-term goal and reach it. I wanted this for their satisfaction much more than mine.

I could go on and on about how I managed my team of reporters, but the styles I used the most were to work with them early on in the work process so that problems wouldn't arise later, and to help them do some long-term stories they wanted to do. Part of both of those efforts required time. Time to get out and find what they really wanted to do, and time to report early and often. I tried to give them this time by having them either write fewer daily stories, or turn those stories into briefs so they could spend time on the big things.

Those management styles, if you want to call them styles, are what I'd like in my new workplace. To be able to spend time on quality, and have help dealing with the little things early enough so the job was done right. I realize that all work requires some mundane tasks that have to get done, and I'm willing to do those. But at the end of the day I want my work, and the work of others I'm spending eight hours a day with, to matter.

As we enter a new year, that's my small resolution: To find a job, a career, where I can make a difference. I know that's probably asking a lot, but that's what I have to offer -- the chance to make an impact. I know it will take a lot of work on my part to find that job, and I plan to find new and bolder methods.

Have a happy new year's eve and come back in 2009 to "Unemployed Dad" for more unemployment adventures. It's going to get interesting.

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Anonymous said...

You are very realistic in your 2009 goals. Keep up the great blog.

Anonymous said...

Good luck finding your new job. I was largely unemployed for the last 2 years until I finally landed a teaching job and stopped the bleeding.

I hope you don't need as much time, although newspapers are falling off the cliff. Consider another profession.